Sep 12

Mets Should Ride And Not Rest Cespedes

It came as no surprise Yoenis Cespedes was in the Mets’ lineup tonight in Atlanta. And, to listen to manager Terry Collins, Cespedes will be in the lineup tomorrow and the day after that, and the day after that, and the day after that …

Cespedes will play until he wants a day off, and why not? He’s 29 and firecracker hot with no signs of letting up. It should also come as no surprise Cespedes hit another home run, giving him 16 with the Mets. And, when he came to bat in the ninth with the bases loaded, another RBI that iced the Mets’ sixth straight victory was a formality.

CESPEDES: Does it again. (Getty)

CESPEDES: Does it again. (Getty)

With their lead over the Nationals having ballooned to 9.5, another soon to be a formality will be their first playoff appearance since 2006. Tonight they assured themselves of finishing .500 for the first time since 2008.

You wouldn’t be a Mets’ fan if you somehow were not worried Cespedes will eventually cool. Hopefully, that won’t happen until the season is over.

I wrote the other day I didn’t think the Mets would bring back Cespedes, but that’s strictly because of their track record with high-priced free agents. It’s not because I don’t want the Mets to sign him, but simply a gut feeling.

With every passing day, and each extra-base hit, his price keeps going up. Who knows how high it will go? Actually, on the radio today I heard he might pass the $240 million over ten years Robinson Cano got from Seattle. I wouldn’t give Cespedes either, as they’ll grow to regret it the last four or five years.

If Cespedes doesn’t want to rest, just ride him until the Mets clinch and then give him a day or two. That’s what Collins should be doing with everybody … keep the pressure on and go for the throat.

 

Sep 11

Don’t Figure Cespedes Returning

Count me among the group wanting the Mets to bring back Yoenis Cespedes, although I’m not confident in their ability to do so. They have the money, but I don’t see them going $150-million over seven, which would be the starting point.

The Mets won’t bring back Daniel Murphy or Bartolo Colon – which could come back to bite them – and Michael Cuddyer will be gone after next season and Curtis Granderson will be out after two more years.

CESPEDES: Want him back. (AP)

CESPEDES: Want him back. (AP)

I see the Mets making an offer, but not going all out. As good as Cespedes has been, I see the Mets falling short. Somehow, I see this going the way of Jose Reyes.

Another thing I don’t see is Cespedes winning the NL Most Valuable Player Award. As somebody who has voted for these awards, the thought process of most voters is to look at the entire body of work, and for Cespedes, that will be only two months in the National League.

Cespedes’ season has been terrific, but the award is for what he did in that league – hence, NL MVP. Bryce Harper, despite his team falling, still had the best season of anybody in the National League. Even Cespedes’ yearlong composite numbers for both leagues aren’t as good as Harper’s in the National League.

The Mets could have two postseason awards, and it’s not something anybody could have envisioned. GM Sandy Alderson for Executive of the Year and Terry Collins for Manager of the Year.

At one time I briefly thought Noah Syndergaard had a chance for Rookie of the Year, but that faded, and Michael Conforto, in case you’re wondering, hasn’t been around enough.

Of course, isn’t the important thing the World Series trophy? That’s the prize and it is within sight.

Sep 09

The Dream Continues

Not only did the Mets sweep the Nationals for a second straight series, all three games this time were done in come-from-behind fashion. Not only that, the Mets’ pitchers in the first two games – Jon Niese and Matt Harvey – were torched, and Jacob deGrom was off Wednesday night.

None of that mattered as the Mets found away to win because they willed the outcome. As good as Stephen Strasburg was, you never had the feeling the Mets were out of it, but instead, it was only a matter of time.

“ I love where we’re at. We’re rolling,” said Kelly Johnson, who tied the game with a pinch-hit homer off Strasburg in the eighth. And. of course, Yoenis Cespedes, continued his push for MVP consideration, with a game-winning homer in the eighth.

That roll included Michael Conforto driving in an insurance run and making a run-saving catch. It seems like a long time ago that the Mets were reluctant to bring up Conforto as not to damage his confidence. It doesn’t seem like anything can phase Conforto these days.

And, for the third straight night, the bullpen pitched well, despite Bryce Harper‘s cosmetic homer in the eighth.

The Mets left Florida Sunday night having lost two walk-off games to the Marlins and their lead down to four. The Nationals were hot, having won five straight.

For those who remember the titanic collapse of 2007, when they blew a seven-game lead with 17 to play, there’s the thought that these are the Mets so anything can happen. However, it’s a different year with different players, and above all, a different chemistry.

For the past several years, the Nationals simply bullied the Mets. But, this year, the little guys have the muscle.

 

Sep 09

Things Couldn’t Have Worked Out Better For Matt Harvey

It was Matt Harvey‘s worst outing of the season for the Mets, yet he came out smelling like roses. He’s the guy who doesn’t find loose change under his seat cushions, but $20 bills. At least so far, it has been that way.

HARVEY: Comes up golden. (Getty)

HARVEY: Comes up golden. (Getty)

We don’t know yet how much Harvey will pitch in September and his availability for the playoffs, but things are looking good for now. After four days in which he took a public relations hit for the innings flap issue after agent Scott Boras dared remind GM Sandy Alderson of the 180 innings magic number.

The print media took its shot at Harvey, but SNY continued to treat him with kid gloves as it failed to acknowledge Boras doesn’t say anything without Harvey’s knowledge. Guys, Boras is Harvey’s mouthpiece.

Harvey wants to tread lightly in September and pitch in October, but that might not be possible to his liking. However, Tuesday’s game and the completed sweep tonight gives the Mets a seven-game lead with 23 games remaining, to create a gap seemingly wide enough where missing Harvey a couple of times might be possible without creating any angst. Whether it is Logan Verrett or Steven Matz, it doesn’t matter.

The key here is Harvey got what he wanted with a limited amount of friction from the front office. Even a loss or two might not be the end of the world now. Had Harvey been beaten, he would have gotten all sorts of questions if the controversy was a distraction.

However, if Harvey only starts two more games – against the Yankees and Washington as reported – the question of how sharp he’ll be could become an issue. But for now, that’s just conjecture. For now, the Harvey issue doesn’t seem so intense.

 

 

Sep 08

Amazing Comeback All But Seals NL East For Mets

The Mets might as well put the champagne on ice, because this baby is over. The Mets won’t say it, they kept talking about tomorrow, but it is hard to imagine them blowing this now.

In a game the Washington Nationals had to win, they blew a six-run lead as the Mets scored six runs after two were out in the seventh inning as eight straight hitters reached base. The Mets have been a comeback team all year, but tonight they took it to another level.

NIEUWENHUIS: Unloads clutch homer. (AP)

NIEUWENHUIS: Unloads clutch homer. (AP)

Only teams that have destiny smiling upon them does stuff like this. Four times this season they rallied from five or more runs to win.

It was a season-high six-run hole they climbed out of tonight in the 8-7 victory over the team that bullied them the past few years. They have come from behind in the first two games of this series.

“I thought yesterday was pretty good,” David Wright said. “This was amazing. It goes back to the term resiliency. We truly believe we’re in every game. After tonight, we believe it even more.”

“I’m not sure I’ve ever been involved in a bigger win than this,” manager Terry Collins said after the game. “There’s no sense of panic with this team. … To come in here and do what they did tonight was huge.”

I wonder what the over/under was on the times “huge” was said after the game.

When Kirk Nieuwenhuis crushed a pinch-hit homer in the eighth off Nationals closer Jonathan Papelbon for the game winner, long forgotten was Matt Harvey‘s disappointing start in which he gave up seven runs. The camera flashed on Harvey several times that inning, and you couldn’t help but wonder what was going through his mind.

He supplied the answer.

“I was frustrated with my start,” Harvey said. “But, it was awesome to see. This was huge for us.”

The game began with a cloud over the Mets pertaining to Harvey’s innings, and that scenario couldn’t be ignored as the Nationals slapped him around. Now, with the Mets’ lead back up to six games with 24 remaining, Harvey’s innings might now be a moot point because they can afford to skip him several times without worrying about coughing up their lead.

“But, we have to keep him sharp,” Collins said, adding he thought Harvey tried to do too much early, “to show everybody who he is.”

Harvey said, “I left too many many pitches out over the plate,” then said what he should have said the other day in Florida.

“I don’t know,” Harvey said when asked when he’ll pitch again. “I’ll be ready whenever they decide to pitch me.”

Collins likes to say Harvey is human, but he is leading a charmed life. It was his muff on a bunt play that seemingly opened the door for the Nationals to blow it open, 7-1, in the sixth.

“He went out there with a lot hanging over him,” Collins said. “I’m proud of him.”

The Mets are also leading a charmed life.

They got Lucas Duda back and he contributed a bases-loaded walk to tie the game. Then, in the ninth he pounced on a bunt to nail Jayson Werth at second. There was so much more on this night. Wright homered.  Yoenis Cespedes made a critical error that allowed three runs to score, but he got them back with a three-run double. Cespedes is a game changer, and the Mets need to sign him.

There was more. Nieuwenhuis homered and he isn’t even supposed to be here as the Mets released him earlier this year. Wilmer Flores, whom the Mets unsuccessfully tried to trade in late July, drove in the first run in the wild seventh.

The bullpen, all of a sudden, is menacing with 9.1 scoreless innings in this series with 15 strikeouts and just two walks. Addison Reed might be the seventh-inning answer as he struck out two, including Bryce HarperTyler Clippard, dealt by the Nationals, blew away is former team in the eighth, and Jeurys Familia earned his 38th save.

The game started miserably for the Mets, but couldn’t have ended any sweeter. Champagne sweet, if you will.